Carb-loading is so deeply ingrained in endurance sports it may come as a shock to learn that the gluten-free, low-carb Paleo diet can help endurance athletes achieve peak performance.

Ironman triathlete Nell Stephenson is among the growing number of endurance athletes who are sold on the merits of the Paleo diet, she told Competitor. The triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile swim followed by a 112-mile bike ride and then a 26.2-mile marathon, done in that order without a break.

Stephenson switched to the gluten-free Paleo diet after contracting a parasite during an Ironman triathlon in 2004. After finding no relief with prescription drugs, Nell adopted the Paleo diet, which emphasizes high-quality animal proteins, healthy fats, vegetables, and excludes gluten, sugar, dairy, legumes, starches, alcohol and processed foods.

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Photo by Cathy andersen

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